What is Wi-Fi 7: what you need to know

CES – the world’s largest tech show – has kicked off for another year and given us an early gift: a new standard of Wi-Fi known as Wi-Fi 7. Here’s what it is, how it compares to Wi-Fi 6 and when you can get your hands on it.
Luke Hopewell · 10 January 2024 · 5 minute read




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What is Wi-Fi 7?

Wi-Fi is everywhere these days. Connecting our digital devices with the internet through a router in your home or business. Just like our phone networks going from 2G to 5G, Wi-Fi has evolved too!

The latest version is known as "Wi-Fi 7".

Announced by the Wi-Fi Alliance at the 2023 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Wi-Fi 7 will start popping up on new routers, smartphones and other devices in the coming 12 months.

Here’s what’s new.

Wi-Fi 6 vs Wi-Fi 7: what’s different?

Wi-Fi 6, also known as 802.11ax, marked a significant leap forward in wireless technology when it entered devices in 2022. Its focus was on delivering faster speeds, enhanced efficiency, and improved performance over its predecessors, Wi-Fi 4 and Wi-Fi 5.

We currently have Wi-Fi 6 in our latest Telstra Smart Modem 3, for example. With Wi-Fi 6, you get better “throughput”, which is basically more lanes on your connected highway for reduced congestion, faster upload and download speeds and a better overall experience.

Wi-Fi 6 also brought with it smarter traffic handling on your network to reduce congestion in crowded environments, as well as better range overall.

Wi-Fi 7 is being hailed as “the next big upgrade” for everyone’s fave wireless connectivity standard. So how does it compare?

Wi-Fi 7 builds on the best features of its predecessor for a better overall experience.

For starters, Wi-Fi 7 doubles the speed of your home network. That means more seamless streaming and faster gaming. It’s important to stress that the home network and the internet coming into your modem are two different things, however, and your maximum internet connectivity speed will be determined by which plan you’re on.

Plus, Wi-Fi 7 boosts range once again, and uses multi-channel technology to get your data sent through the network as fast as possible. So rather than wait for a queue of traffic to be sent through your device, you’ll have multiple lanes available for more throughput and less buffering. Think of it like better multitasking for your modem.

Wi-Fi 7 is also more eco-conscious. It’s designed to optimise energy efficiency when you’re not using the device so there’s no unnecessary power consumption during low traffic periods.

When can I use Wi-Fi 7?

Like Wi-Fi 6, Wi-Fi 7 will trickle out over the next 12 months into consumer hardware. Some Wi-Fi 7 devices are already on the market internationally, but these still need to be certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance to officially call themselves Wi-Fi 7 devices.

If you want to see which devices have been approved for Wi-Fi 7, you can check out the Wi-Fi Alliance’s product finder online.

By Luke Hopewell

Editor, tech expert and Senior Specialist Writer at Telstra Exchange

Luke Hopewell is an editor, tech expert and Senior Specialist Writer at Telstra Exchange. Luke joined Telstra in 2019 where he has had the privilege to help bring stories to life in a unique and human way. He was previously the head of editorial at Twitter Australia and the editor of cult tech site Gizmodo. For over a decade, Luke’s passion for technology has always driven him to seek out the latest gadgets and game-changers, and help others to understand how it all works. In another life he was a cyber security specialist where he sought to educate people about how to stay safe online. When he's not writing, he's getting outdoors and patting all the nice dogs he meets.